Friday, August 8, 2014

How to Use Reagan Against the Repugs

Too many dems make the mistake of thinking Reagan is the repug's biggest strength. In fact, he's their greatest weakness, both because he wasn't who they thought he was, and because their blindness about him makes them vulnerable to being sucker-punched with the truth.


Rick Perlstein pointed out the error in that formulation a long time ago citing the Great Communicator as the example of how this sort of appeal can be done to advance your agenda while appealing to people across the aisle. (By the way, it includes making some of your enemies furious ...)
Reagan didn't praise FDR. He stole from him. As in, "This generation has a rendez vous with destiny." We should steal from Reagan too. As in: "There is no left and right. Only up or down." He would then use that intro to frame some outrageously right-wing notion as "common sense." We should do the same for left-wing ideas.

Also, use Reagan to mess with righties' heads. As in: I agree we need a Reaganite foreign policy. When Reagan realized we were caught in the crossfire of a religious civil war in Lebanon, he got the hell out. He would have done the same thing in Iraq. The rule isn't "never say anything nice about Reagan." It's "use Reagan for progressive ends."

Reality does bite and Reagan wouldn't have been able to sustain that position if the economy hadn't been improving, but he understood that the only way forward politically was to assert the rightness of his policies and philosophy. It was a gamble, but then it was a gamble either way.

Both Obama and Reagan won their re-elections, likely due to the improving economy as much as anything else. But Reagan had instilled a bedrock belief in a very large number of people that the conservative philosophy was the key to success. I don't think President Obama can say the same thing.

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